P. O. BOX 2120
June 26, 1998


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Accreditation Issues

  At its retreat on April 22, 1998, the Board of Education
  authorized the Department of Education to move forward on a
  number of issues related to the new system for accrediting
  schools in Virginia.

  The Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting
  Public Schools in Virginia prescribe an annual accrediting
  cycle for schools and requires that schools certify
  compliance with certain provisions of the standards as a
  prerequisite to accreditation.  The regulations include the
  following provision:

       D.   Pre-accreditation requirements:  As a
       prerequisite to the awarding of an accreditation 
       rating as defined in 8 VAC 20-131-300, Application
       of the Standards, each new or existing school
       shall document,  in a manner prescribed by the
       Board, its compliance with the requirements to
       offer courses that will allow students to complete
       the graduation requirements in 8 VAC 20-131- 50,
       the ability to offer the instructional program
       prescribed in 8 VAC 20-131-70 through 8 VAC 20-131-100,
       the leadership and staffing requirements
       of 8 VAC 20-131-210 through 8 VAC 20-131-240 and
       the facilities and safety provisions of 8 VAC 20-131-260.

  The standards stipulate that all schools automatically will
  be rated Provisionally Accredited effective July 1.  We were
  authorized to modify the self-certification process already
  in place to collect data on compliance with pre-accreditation
  eligibility requirements.  It will be necessary for each
  school to certify compliance with certain provisions of the
  standards as prescribed above.  A form has been developed
  for that purpose and preprinted for all of
  the schools in your division.  Please return one copy of
  Attachment A (Form UG.002) for each school, along with any
  required corrective action plans, on or before July 31,

  The Board also adopted a policy to identify various
  educational entities in the state that would be recognized
  as "schools" for accreditation purposes.  Only schools that
  have students in fall membership will be held accountable
  for meeting the standards.  While schools that do not report
  fall membership will not be accredited independently,
  facilities that provide instruction to students who are
  reported in fall membership data at their home schools are
  not fully relieved of the responsibility for meeting other
  applicable standards. They will share the accreditation
  rating of the schools that serve as their students' home
  schools.  A Form UG.002 must be submitted for all schools in
  the division including those with no fall membership.

  Some schools have been identified that do not house a grade
  that is tested in the Standards of Learning (SOL) assessment
  program or offer courses that require an end-of-course SOL
  test.  For accrediting purposes, that school must be paired
  with another school with which it has a feeder relationship
  and a grade to be tested.  For example, schools with a K-2

  grade configuration should be paired with a school that
  houses a third-grade class and receives students from the K-2
  school (a majority or significant number of those students
  would be preferred).  Another example is a school that
  houses only grades 6 and 7.  The preferred pairing may be
  for a school housing the 8th grade to receive students in
  grades 6 and 7.  Where there are such schools in a division,
  they are listed on Attachment B (Form UG.003).  Please use
  the form to recommend how these schools should be paired.

  On July 1, 1995, the Board began accrediting child day care
  programs operated by public schools.  Those programs must
  meet or exceed regulations for private day care providers
  issued by the Child Day Care Council.  The Board of
  Education promulgated regulations that incorporate those of
  the Child Day Care Council by reference.  If schools in your
  division are operating child day care programs (preschool or
  extended day), please indicate that fact on Attachment A
  where requested.  The regulations exempt the following

     Instructional programs offered by public schools
       that satisfy compulsory attendance laws or the
       Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
       (IDEA), and extracurricular activities that are
       focused on single interests such as, but not
       limited to, music, drama, art, sports, or foreign
       languages are exempt from the requirements of
       these regulations.

  If you have questions or need copies of any of the
  regulations discussed in this memorandum, please contact
  Charles W. Finley, Principal Specialist for Policy Analysis
  at (804) 225-2747 or via e-mail to


  Attachments: A hard copy of this memo and its attachments
               will be sent to the superintendent's office.